Speaker Fruit

Anxiously awaiting a couple of new releases so i can put my proverbial thought pennies online, i thought i’d bide web time by piggy backing on last week’s Music Monday.

The Apples In Stereo

Playful Power Pop! That’s what i’ve termed the styled musings of The Apples In Stereo. The exuberant bliss of bright head-bobbing rhythms, founded in lo-fi guitars and propelled by bouncy sing-along melodies transform a grimace to a grin. i first discovered The Apples In Stereo in 1997 with “Seems So”(from their second release Tone Soul Evolution) that i received on an industry artist sampler. With inspiration primarily rooted in The Beach Boys, Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, and The Beatles “Revolver” through “The Beatles (White Album)” pop epoch, TAIS were formed in 1992. Robert Schneider (not to be confused with the actor/comedian Rob Schneider), primary songwriter/lyricist, singer and guitar player formed The Apples with friends he’d met in his relocation from Louisiana to Colorado.

Despite the fuzzed out grooves of “Tidal Waves,” on their full-length 1995 debut Fun Trick Noisemaker reflecting a pop-soaked version of Sonic Youth, The Apples In Stereo found it complicated to find a place on radio in the early and mid ‘90s. It was difficult to gain notoriety as Pacific Northwest grunge artists and their imitators wrestled air control to build their musical kingdoms. The happiest music that you’ve never heard sometimes brings to mind saccharine tunes of The Partridge Family or The Starland Vocal Band, throwing in the occasional horn arrangement and vocal harmonies that would make Jeff Lynne proud. See why that really doesn’t work with the grunge movement?.

Though not a huge commercial success, The Apples In Stereo’s songs have appeared sporadically in television advertisements (“Energy” from New Magnetic Wonder (2007), was used in a world -wide Pepsi campaign); and Schneider has written special songs such as “Signal In The Sky (Let’s Go!),” (Let’s Go! , 2001), the Will Vinton (remember those dancing California Raisins?) directed video for the Cartoon Network’s glorious Powerpuff Girls inspired music; or the hilarious “Stephen, Stephen” contributed to The Green Screen Challenge on an episode of The Colbert Report.

Nowhere is The Beatles’ influence more prevalent than on the “Strawberry Fields” homage “Strawberryfire,” from Her Wallpaper Reverie (1999). The Zombies inspired psychedelic pop of “Stream Running Over” and the danceable hand-clapper “The Bird That You Can’t See,” both from The Discovery Of A World Inside The Moone (2000), are always fun songs. Speaking of fun, i dare you to frown and keep your head from bobbing while listening to the somber titled “Same Old Drag.”

Also try picking these from their tree: “Please,” The Velocity of Sound (2002); “Skyway,” New Magnetic Wonder (2007); “Dance Floor,” Travellers In Space And Time (2010).

Let me know what you think.

~End pome~

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Not Just For The Lactose Tolerant

Over the years i have done everything from be a musician, concert promoter, freelance music journalist, review editor, industry marketing consultant, etc. Most of all i’m an audiophile, a self described music geek. Monday’s at lifeVertical will be devoted to music.

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Neutral Milk Hotel, circa 1998. Jeff Mangum is holding the angel.

The other day my son and i watching the final season episodes of my favorite sitcoms and one of the characters mentions Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s been ages since i’ve listened to them. So i dug out my NMH discs, ripped them to MP3 so i can strap them to myPod (when will someone come out with a descent portable flac player?).

Listening to long forgotten songs like Holland, 1945; Song Against Sex; Ghost; and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea bring to mind the instrument variation of Sufjan Stevens, the enthusiasm of Arcade Fire, and The Decemberists’ general song craft. What?! You’ve never heard of NMH? If you’re even a casual fan of the a fore mentioned artists you should at least give a seek to NMH on Youtube to see where they glean influence.

Neutral Milk Hotel is truly a lost treasure: ahead of their time, and whose time should now surely come. The brainchild of Jeff Mangum, their first full –length On Avery Island was released in 1996 and consists of simply Jeff on vocals and instrumentation with the aid of his pal Robert Schneider (who went on to form and front the Beatles-esque pop band The Apples In Stereo… one of my favorites) on production and various instruments.

On Avery Island was followed up in 1998 by the Anne Frank inspired concept album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. After which, Mangum crawled under a rock and has barely been heard from since.

Any other NMH admirers out there or am i a stranger in a strange land? Otherwise, go check them out and leave feedback on your thoughts.

~End neutrality~